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First day of school a smooth one

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In Ogdensburg on Thursday, the first day of school was an unusual but peaceful coexistence between students’ books and computers alongside construction workers’ power tools, hammers and nails.

“Actually, it went very well,” said Superintendent Timothy M. Vernsey.

Kennedy Elementary School is undergoing a renovation that is part of a $57 million district-wide project that will increase its capacity from 450 students to more than 700 students by fall of 2014 after Lincoln Elementary School closes.

But opening day was never in doubt.

“We had construction and cleaning crews working all night,” Mr. Vernsey said. “We’re under construction.”

Mr. Vernsey was especially pleased that he was able to obtain all an all-important certificate of occupancy as well as final fire and health inspection approvals before the students returned.

“That was my primary concern,” he said.

Meanwhile, construction continues on a new gymnasium, band room, chorus room, cafeteria and stage. They are expected to be finished by January.

Elsewhere, Hammond Central School started classes Wednesday, a day early than most other districts in the north country.

“Everything seems to be going smoothly these last two days,” Superintendent Douglas H. McQueer said. “Maintenance crews did a fantastic job getting the building read and there really wasn’t much to do in the last few days, just a few odds and ends that were taken care of.”

The district has hired four new staff members this year to replace four retirees.

“We have one new fifth grade teacher, junior kindergarten teacher, high school math teacher and high school science teacher,” Mr. McQueer said. “Everyone seems to be getting acquainted and the school is in full swing.”

(Staff writer Amanda Purcell contributed to this report.)

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